Alexander Soros, son of financier and philanthropist George, has set up his own foundation, the Alexander Soros Foundation (ASF). Officially launched on 5 April and based in New York City, it will promote social justice and human rights by funding innovative organizations in the US and abroad. Its first public event will be to sponsor a gala to raise funds and publicize the work of Global Witness, which works to expose the link between conflict and corruption and exploitation of natural resources.
Philanthropy, as he puts it, is ‘more the family business than the actual family business’. He sees ASF’s focus on human rights as a natural progression from the work of the Open Society Institute (OSI), founded by Soros Senior, on whose board he serves. He established ASF ‘to fund more experimental and perhaps controversial projects that larger mainstream foundations might not be willing to take on’, he says in an interview for Alliance.
Risk is therefore part of the territory. ‘You have to be willing to fail,’ he says, and willing to go to the root cause of problems. ‘It’s not risky to build a hospital but it’s a little more risky to try to affect the issues of governance that lead to civil wars and thus increase the amount of people that will have to go to that hospital … I’ve begun to see these things as a paradigm of greatest effectiveness and that’s one of the reasons I love Global Witness.’
Philanthropy, he believes, ‘is not the answer to every problem but it can be a catalyst for change’.